Picture this, an entire chain of events has occured, enough to feed a news hungry audience, but was given a wide-berth by mainstream media for petty and shallow reasons.
In this case, Cyprian Nyakundi was arrested, illegally detained, students union threatened to demonstrate, two governors and an MP involved, DPP drops charges, meaning that a matter of immense public interest was blacked out by mainstream media. Does that make sense to anyone?
There is increasing apathy towards mainstream media in Kenya. Most have forfeited their watchdog role and have derived immense pleasure acting as newsmakers or socialites themselves. The Editors Guild has fallen into the control of Linus Kaikai who is a ruling-class functionally, having once declared his interest in vying for a seat at his native Kilgoris constituency on an ODM ticket.
Linus Kaikai was at the forefront of calling for free press after NMG journalist John Ngirachu was held for questioning by the police after running a corruption scandal against Interior CS Joseph Nkaissery. The scandal detailed how Nkaissery stole Kshs. 3.7B in a single day. Bloggers and Kenyans of all walks of life stood by the media and under the hashtag #FreeNgirachu, pressure that forced President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene and effect the journalist’s release.
Such is the arrogance of mainstream media operatives like Linus Kaikai. After assuming role as Chairman of the Editors Guild, Kaikai has overseen the diminishing role of Mainstream Media, as they are now poodles and sycophants of the corporate and ruling class.
Linus himself who prefers spending most of his time playing golf at Muthaiga Golf Club or eating Thai Cuisine at the Thai Chi restaurance at The Stanley Hotel, is a bootlicker to the high and mighty. His impartiality long gone with the need and greed to be recognised and fit in with the upper-class of Kenya.
But all of this surely would not go unnoticed by Kenyans who have drastically altered their media consumption patterns in the last one year, especially after the standoff between mainstream media operatives and the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK).
Kenyans tired of the stranglehold a few mainstream media operatives had on audiences, which encouraged laxity and killed creativity, unanimously endorsed Information CS Fred Matiangi’s crackdown on stations that had not migrated to to new digital platform.
Kenyans were tired of the Nigerian movies and Mexican soap-opera’s that incompetent editors like Linus Kaikai prefer to shove down their throats, leaving only househelps and watchmen as their core viewership base. The intellectual audience moved on and discovered new outlets to get news and information on.
Twitter and Blogs have become very influential in Kenya. When news sources realised that journalists in Kenya have become slaves and poodles of the ruling class, they quickly moved to providing information to bloggers. It has been a long while since mainstream media broke a scandal but twitter and blogs break them on a daily basis.
In the ever-changing online environment, initially there were two focal points allied to the various political groupings, while the only other blogs were mostly gossip sites and influencers were mainly media personalities.
For a while, Jubilee operatives had controlled public opinion and twitter conversation as their celebrity-status helped them acquire following at a very early stage. The only other alternative was Robert Alai who was allied to the opposition and his content was largely critical to the regime, that even when he would run a neutral piece, it would still be viewed from the lenses of his political affiliation.
But the last 9 months have seen a near dismantling of that monopoly, as players like Julie Gichuru started being exposed after her scripted interview with Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, Jeff Koinange lost face after interviewing Ben Gethi, and top media personalities/stations like Larry Madowo of NTV were exposed for elevating fraudsters like Hesh De Silva. With every blunder that mainstream media made, bloggers were at hand to fill the gap.
Dennis Itumbi’s credibility took a battering after he coined hashtags like #Waiguruisclean, when it later turned out that the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) is now investigating her as a suspect and that she had been a thief all along. The hashtags thus discredited and diminished his and the online stature of Statehouse, hindering the Government from effectively communicating online.
With that gap exposed, a new space was created for independent bloggers who are not allied to any political grouping or corporate company. By face-value you may think that an account-holder like Dennis Itumbi or Safaricom Limited have influence by follower-count, but in real sense, any hashtag they promote is always hijacked by proponents of alternative views, thus watering down the intended message.
That sad state of affairs recently played out when Statehouse bloggers pushed the hashtag #RaisMchapaKazi which ended up mocking the head of state and portraying him in negative light. Safaricom also had their hashtag #BizAgainstCorruption hijacked by voices of reason after the company’s CEO was accused of being a beneficiary of Jubilee’s corruption when the firm was awarded a single-sourced tender to instal CCTV camera’s all around Nairobi.
In the changing landscape, mainstream media under the guidance of Linus Kaikai have now conceded their authority, credibility and influence, in pursuit of adverts but unfortunately losing many audiences. Other than Royal Media Services, all other media houses posted losses including Kaikai’s own Nation Media which could not even afford a staff Christmas Party and did not give end of year bonuses. Standard Group was in dire straits, posting a Kshs. 20million profit, and yet surprisingly holding onto the same redundant model which can only mean that the company faces a bleak future.
And instead of joining Kenyans in the struggle for a third liberation, mainstream media bosses are still locked up in 5-star hotels, sipping Cognac, ignoring matters of public interest like the illegal detention of bloggers, too blind or drunk to see that their role is slowly being replaced and their credibility gone down the drain.
We can only wish them the best.
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